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Looking Back at My Preseason Predictions (Part I)

I am a man of my word, alas. When I made my preseason predictions, I promised to revisit my forecasts in January to see how well or how poorly I fared . . . and, well, you can just delete the phrase "how well or" from that thought.

We'll start with an overview of my conference championship predictions. Read 'em and weep:

Atlantic Coast: That whole "superconference" thing hasn't quite materialized yet and I expect the A.C.C. to field many good teams in 2006, but no great ones. I believe Florida State will survive the war of attrition and win its second straight league championship game.

I was right about a couple of things there. First of all, the A.C.C. is not a "superconference" . . . in fact, it is plainly the weakest of the six B.C.S. leagues. Secondly, the Atlantic Coast Conference did not field a single great team in 2006. Beyond that, though, I was 18 different kinds of wrong, as the league fielded few good teams, with Florida State being among the most mediocre of them.
Big East: This is looking less and less like an upset pick and more and more like what is coalescing into the conventional wisdom as a lot of folks who jumped on the West Virginia bandwagon in January are beginning to feel buyer's remorse, but I know better than to pick any preseason Big East frontrunner unless Cuba is visible from its campus on a clear day. Relieved of the burden of being cast in the role of the favorite, Louisville's Bobby Petrino will do in 2006 what Auburn's Tommy Tuberville did in 2004: have the season he was supposed to have the year before.

Bingo. I nailed that one.
Big Ten: This is by far the shakiest of my conference championship picks. I'm going with Ohio State, but, even as I type the words, I feel the strong inclination to go back and change my choice to Iowa or Michigan. I'm sticking with O.S.U., but, if I were a betting man, I'd bet on myself to be wrong about this one.

Here, I hedged heavily . . . and, wouldn't you know it, Ohio State was the only B.C.S. conference team to finish the regular season undefeated. Far from being "the shakiest of my conference championship picks," the Buckeyes turned out to be the strongest. I got the right result, but my underconfidence was misplaced.
Big 12: Texas won't win this year's league championship game quite as decisively as the Longhorns won last year's, but U.T. remains the class of a league that turned out to be better than we thought in 2005. The 'Horns will travel a rougher road, but they'll reach their intended destination, nevertheless.

Not only did the Longhorns fail to win their conference championship game, they failed even to appear in it. Instead, two teams Texas beat---Nebraska and Oklahoma---squared off in Kansas City as the thrice-beaten 'Horns watched on television. I just flat whiffed on that one.
Pac-10: The race for the championship of the West Coast league will be more competitive this year, but that doesn't mean it necessarily will be close. I expect Southern California to retain its stature as the leader of the Pac . . . but the race for second place should be fierce and fun to watch.

As LD, a 2006 College Football Blogger Award nominee, would put it: "Cadillac." The Trojans once again captured the Pac-10 title (by virtue of the head-to-head tiebreaker), but several successive close scrapes at midseason, followed by road losses to Oregon State and U.C.L.A. in tight ballgames, gave hint that the gap between U.S.C. and the rest of the league has narrowed. Co-champion Cal missed out on the Rose Bowl by tripping up on the road in a narrow setback against a team the Golden Bears overlooked, so, yeah, I'd say the race was interesting.
Southeastern: Georgia, of course! If not the 'Dawgs, though, I expect the S.E.C.'s automatic B.C.S. representative to be Auburn. I hate Auburn.

Unfortunately, the Red and Black fell far short in their efforts to defend their S.E.C. title. Fortunately, Auburn did not capture the league title or even represent the Western Division in the Dome. Unfortunately, another set of Stalwarts in Orange and Blue (or, as I abbreviate that term, "S.O.B.s") captured the conference and national crowns.

I forecast the conference champions correctly for the Big East, Big Ten, and Pac-10, although I still sold Ohio State short, and I was wide of the mark on the remaining three power conferences, coming nowhere near anticipating Florida's, Oklahoma's, or Wake Forest's league title runs. In my defense, though, did anyone see the Demon Deacons' Orange Bowl bid coming?

Coming soon: Whether specific events I predicted (other than conference titles) ultimately came to pass.

Go 'Dawgs!